Human factors in production and logistics systems of the future
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAnnual Reviews in Control. 2020, 49 295-305. 10.1016/j.arcontrol.2020.04.007
The way humans work in production and logistics systems is changing. The evolution of technologies, Industry 4.0 applications, and societal changes, such as ageing workforces, are transforming operations processes. This transformation is still a “black-box” for many companies, and there are calls for new management approaches that can help to successfully overcome the future challenges in production and logistics. While Industry 4.0 emerges, companies have started to use advanced control tools enabled by real-time monitoring systems that allow the development of more accurate planning models that enable proactive managerial decision-making. Although we observe an increasing trend in automating human work in almost every industry, human workers are still playing a central role in many production and logistics systems. Many of these planning models developed for managerial decision support, however, do not consider human factors and their impact on system or employee performance, leading to inaccurate planning results and decisions, underperforming systems, and increased health hazards for employees. This paper summarizes the vision, challenges and opportunities in this research field, based on the experience of the authors, members of the Working Group 7 (WG7) “Human factors and ergonomics in industrial and logistic system design and management” of the IFAC Technical Committee (TC) 5.2 “Manufacturing Modelling for Management and Control". We also discuss the development of this research stream in light of the contributions presented in invited sessions at related IFAC conferences over the last five years. The TC 5.2 framework is adapted to include a human-centered perspective. Based on this discussion, a research agenda is developed that highlights the potential benefits and future requirements for academia and society in this emerging research field. Promising directions for future research on human factors in production and logistics systems include the consideration of diversity of human workers and an in-depth integration of Industry 4.0 technologies in operations processes to support the development of smart, sustainable, human-centered systems.